When I go on Facebook (which is less and less these days) and go into the groups I am part of, there invariably is some sort of argument going on about money. Mostly the argument is that if you are “spiritual” or offer spiritual or shamanic services you should not accept money for said services. In fact, you are an asshole if you do, and stomping on tradition… you are a fake, a fraud, and karma will come back to you. The follow-up is usually an idealized whitewashed idea about how indigenous shamans did business, which invariably incites an argument about what constitutes a shaman, and how many of them are fakes and phonies and terrible, awful people.
This idea is evidenced by some of the people that contact me as well. Invariably someone will contact me with a situation that is quite complex- involving anything from possession to ancestral issues who expects me to spend my time reading their emails, doing healing work for them, and replying to them for free. Usually this is the same person who will get quite mad that I charge for my services and will repeat the arguments above, along with the sentiment that if I know how to help them, why don’t I?
A few facts for you about this scenario…
Shamans were typically considered very well off by indigenous standards. They were gifted food, items, livestock, and typically lived on a large compound with their family and extended family. They were cared for well, because their jobs were extremely hard and being a shaman was, and still is, extremely dangerous.
It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) that we no longer live in communities such as indigenous shaman did. Modern-day spiritual providers need to go to the grocery store, feed their kids, pay their rent… just like everyone else.
People who are spiritual healers, shaman, etc. cannot do anything else with their lives. They can no longer be accountants, or work a 9-5 job. The pull for those who are called to this work is so strong and the time and energy it takes to become competent at this work is much more than what people would imagine.
Now that we have gone beyond the cultural ideas surrounding this, let us talk about the individual reasons why I accept money for my services…
Beyond needing to feed, clothe, and pay the rent reasoning (which is a surface reason, but still a reality) money is an energetic exchange. It is not evil (or good), but it is how we value things in our society. The type of patient who comes to me, pays the fees I charge, does the homework I provide, and is open to change is the one that has a huge healing session and gets the most out of the work. The patient who feels entitled to ask me for healing sessions for free has no reason to show up for the work. And they do not. I used to offer pro bono work- it never went well. These were the patients who were late for appointments, tried to control the work, and were ungrateful overall… and the work simply was not as powerful. They put nothing into the appointment- so they got nothing out.
The other type of patient that asks providers such as myself for free work is typically complex and has mental illness issues. I am certainly comfortable working with mental illness, but spiritual work tends to attract psychopaths, schizophrenics, and borderline personality types who most ethical practitioner would not choose to work with due to the state of their imbalances.
One of the simplest explanations about why I, and other healers, accept money is that we offer a service. Dentists, doctors, plumbers, librarians, artists, writers… are all professions who offer services. Spiritual healers do as well. By suggesting that they do not accept money, or it is wrong for them to do so, is suggesting that either their job is not important or that the spiritual level of existence is not. Many spiritual healers get the last-ditch effort patients- the people who have spent thousands if not millions on psychotherapy, medication, and all sorts of tapes, books and personal efforts to solve their issues. Someone does not show up to someone like me unless they have tried countless other healers. By paying money, you are showing respect to your own healing process and acknowledging that the spiritual aspect of yourself is important.
Beyond this, a single appointment (or a few) with a Spiritual Healer can change your life. I frequently work with people who have been in therapy for years, if not decades. People who have been through the Mayo clinic for experiences they can’t explain, who have been through acupuncturists, chiropractors, medical intuitives, allopathic physicans, medications, ER’s/hospitals, (you catch my drift) and they come to a Shaman or Spiritual Healer. Because they work with a level (or levels) of reality and a depth that few modalities or healers can touch, Spiritual Healing can heal things that nobody else can. I once had someone joke that an appointment with me was like a year of psychotherapy. The same is true for most effective spiritual healers- it is intensive, life-altering work. It is intense for the giver and the receiver and should be respected. In modern culture, this is through money- ensuring that the provider is taken care of in the outer, external world of car insurance, groceries, and rent.
One of the arguments that I hear often is that if you don’t charge, and are “spiritual” the money will just come. Divine flow, the universe, God/dess will bring it to you. This is certainly true if you follow the path you are intended to. However, there is a joke one of my patients told me- hopefully I don’t screw it up… A man was lost at sea. He repeatedly called for God to come help him. A floating raft appeared- the man did not take it because he was waiting for God. A ship appeared and offered to bring him on board. The man said he was waiting for God to help him. Finally, the man drowned. When he appeared before God, he asked why God did not help him. God said “I sent you a raft and those people!” This is true about money and being a spiritual healer as well. The right patients at the right times will appear to you. And they will provide you with money. And you will pay your rent.
A few thoughts about how a Spiritual Healer actually works
Many people make the argument that if you are a spiritual healer that you will be doing work like this anyway. Why not help someone? The truth is, most single appointments that I do with people take around a week. They take supplies- such as candles, herbs, etc that cost money. But mostly they take time and energy. A single appointment may take anywhere from two hours to fifteen, depending on the prepatory work and after-work that I need to do. I have spent years cultivating spiritual relationships with my helpers. Appointments require energy and considerable energetic exchange between myself, my helpers, and the patient. This is for one patient and one single appointment.
I, as well as many other ethical Spiritual Healers, do not accept all patients. This is certainly true. Even if someone wants to pay me more than my full fee, or begs for me to work with them. Why is this? Some people my spirit helpers tell me not to work with, some people are simply too mentally ill to work with, and some are out of my area of expertise (I refer this last category typically). Most patients are simply not ready- they are not ready to heal, to let go of control, to go through a period of healing, to change.
So, let us break this down…In a week, I might get one hundred emails. Sixty of them want me to help them without paying me anything, or to answer questions about their issues, or are submitting questions for my blog. Thirty of them are not a good fit for me- either due to mental illness or not being ready for the type of work I do. This leaves ten people who might realistically want and be ready to work, some of whom understandably need to think about the considerable commitment energetically and financially that an appointment will require. While I am thankful for my busy practice, sorting through everything to find the people I can actually help, who actually want help, and who are ready to change is fewer than you think and takes longer than one might think. While I certainly appreciate every email that I get, the reality of the situation is that since I only work with people who are ready and willing to receive help, much of my time is spent with people who are not ready for my help. This is true of every single spiritual healer I have talked to (as well as every acupuncturist, psychiatrist, etc).
So, what is the point here?
The point of this blog post is not to participate in the endless argument about spiritual healers and money. Money is simply an energy. It should not inspire anger, or fear. The idea that “spiritual people should not need or accept money” is really saying money is wrong and bad, and that money is something that someone who is truly spiritual doesn’t need or will magically appear. The truth is, if you are a spiritual healer, money does magically appear. In the form of patients you can help, in the form of a service for payment. This sentiment, that spiritual healers should not accept or need money, and are terrible people if they do, is simply a thoughtform. A thoughtform is a communal thought. In this case, it is like a bad game of telephone- people with a misunderstanding of how things worked with indigenous healer plus pop culture New-age Shamanism plus anger and fear equals this thought. And this thought doesn’t really make sense.
This thought is also a projection. If you are getting angry over money, or fear it, or are judging others for receiving it, having it, not having it… whatever the case may be… ultimately it points to your own unhealed wounds about money, not whoever you are projecting this on. What you see in others is your own unhealed wounds– and in this case it points to your own spiritual issues and money. Heal your own relationship with money, and you will realize that money is a current of energy- it either flows or it does not. And nobody is entitled to healing from anyone. If you cannot heal yourself, it is time to pay someone for their time, energy, and abilities.